Low-Carbon Innovation for Sustainable Infrastructure: The Role of Public Procurement

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March, 2018
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Summary

In collaboration with the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), i24c launches its report titled “Low-carbon innovation for sustainable infrastructure – The role of public procurement” which looks at how to leverage the power of the public purse to maximise low-carbon innovation for sustainable infrastructure.

Public procurement is a powerful tool for driving markets towards more sustainable production patterns and for creating markets for sustainable goods, services and infrastructure. Effective public procurement is about delivering the best value-for- money for taxpayers. All too often the meaning of value-for- money is reduced to “cheapest price”. Not only is this incorrect, it is also a missed opportunity to use public money to deliver on the goals governments are pursuing on behalf of citizens: low- carbon transition, employment, sustainable development.

The construction industry is a key candidate for increasingly using strategic public procurement: infrastructure assets are the largest area of public spending and their carbon impact is significant during all the stages of the lifecycle. To date public procurement is not used to its full potential to generate sustainable value for society and incentivize the sector to invest in deep decarbonisation.

At the moment, the EU’s comprehensive legal policy framework allows for and encourages the use of strategic and innovative procurement of low-carbon innovation across the EU. However, to further seize the strategic opportunity of public procurement, procuring authorities and their staff should be empowered to use the intervention points along the procurement cycle as a means to better manage, reduce and share risks associated with the procurement of low-carbon infrastructure solutions.

The report outlines several recommendations for policy interventions at both EU and MS level that need to take place to fully leverage the benefit of procurement of low-carbon innovations in the construction value chain.